SETI Institute Projects and Programs (Listed Chronologically)

Undergraduate Research at the SETI Institute in Astrobiology (USRA): a Partnership Between the SETI Institute and San Jose State University

Thursday, July 01 2010 - 10:34 am, PDT
Students who participate in hands-on undergraduate research projects are more likely to pursue advanced degrees in STEM disciplines (Russell et al., Science 316, 548-549, 2007).

Intracellular Redox Control for Adaptation and Survival in Planetary Environments

Thursday, April 01 2010 - 4:38 pm, PDT
This project is centered around the hypothesis that exposure to environmental extremes results in intracellular oxidative stress, which is modulated by the elemental content of cells. We are using X-ray fluorescence imaging and X-ray transmission microscopy at SSRL (Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource) to map the elemental composition of halophilic cyanobacteria from the Atacama desert and of green algae, and determine changes that may represent responses to transient fluctuations in the environment. Linking these with the genomic and molecular changes in cells helps uncover a possible mechanism of adaptation and evolution.

Microbial Ecology of Early Earth and Modern Artificial Environments

Wednesday, February 24 2010 - 4:00 pm, PST
If we are to understand complex microbial communities we need to understand not only the microbes themselves but their community dynamics as well.

Organic Aerosols in the Early Earth Atmosphere: Reaction Network an Its Isotope Signature

Thursday, October 01 2009 - 10:09 am, PDT
Experimental simulations of Titan's atmospheric and surface chemistries in order to understand the formation of complex organic molecules as well as the abiotic formation of prebiotic molecules, providing important clues to the origin of life on the early Earth.

The Rings Node for the Planetary Data System

Friday, August 28 2009 - 2:14 pm, PDT
Continued improvements in the Planetary Data System, specifically the Rings Node, including development of an interactive website to engage the public about the diversity and significance of planetary ring systems.

Microbial Contamination Detection at Very Low Levels by [125] I Radiolabeling

Friday, July 17 2009 - 2:16 pm, PDT
The goal of this projects is to develop a new and more sensitive method for the determination of bioburdens for planetary protection purposes.

Astrobiological Investigations of Martian Perchlorate and Carbonate Containing Soils

Monday, June 22 2009 - 10:59 am, PDT
Analysis of the roles perchlorate and carbonate chemistry play in the origin, preservation, and distribution of organic biosignatures on Mars.

Detection of Organics and Bioburden

Sunday, February 01 2009 - 2:56 pm, PST
Testing of a Raman/UV instrument designed for remote detection of organic materials on future astrobiology missions, to assist in the protection of other planets from Earth microbes carried by spacecraft.

maccado

IceBite: An auger and sampling system for ground ice on Mars

Sunday, February 01 2009 - 2:51 pm, PST
IceBite: Development of an auger bit to allow future Mars landers to collect samples from below ground level, widening the search for signs of life.

Exploration of Planets Past, Present, and Future Habitability

Wednesday, January 07 2009 - 3:59 pm, PST
Planetary habitability is the measure of a planet's (or a satellite’s) potential to develop and sustain life. While life beyond the Earth is still uncertain, planetary missions show that conditions for habitability (i.e. water, energy, nutrients) were met in the past, and still possibly today in specific environments on Mars and on several moons of the outer solar system. Central to our investigation is the notion that habitability evolves with time. For instance, some planets could have been habitable in the past and may not be anymore; the Earth, that is not only habitable but has developed life, has seen its broad range of habitats change over geological times through climate cycles and planetary-scale catastrophes (e.g., asteroid and comet impacts) that were followed sometimes by near complete extinctions and the redistribution of habitats and dominant species. Currently, Global Warming is showing how rapidly habitats and species can disappear following climate change. Yet, humanity’s ability to explore and understand its environment can have positive consequences, which is in the case of our planet, to reduce human-induced biodiversity loss, and for other planets, to explore and engineer apparently sterile worlds (e.g., the Moon and Mars) to make them habitable and productive for future generations.

Pages